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Italian foreign minister wants French apology over “insults“


Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani speaks to the media ahead of the arrival of a plane carrying evacuees from Sudan, at Ciampino airport near Rome, Italy, April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

The French government must apologise to end a dispute over what Italy considers insulting remarks, including some on migrants arriving by boat, its foreign minister and deputy prime minister said in an interview published on Friday.

A day earlier, the Italian minister, Antonio Tajani, called off a visit to Paris after comments from French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin that Tajani said amounted to “insults” against Italy and its right-wing prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.

“A foreign minister cannot dare do what this gentleman has done,” Tajani told Il Corriere della Sera newspaper, referring to Darmanin.

“If someone offends in a gratuitous manner, the least they could do is apologise. In this case, he offended all Italians, as well as the government and the prime minister,” he said.

Darmanin had told RMC radio that Meloni was “unable to solve the migration problems on which she was elected” and accused her of “lying” to voters that she could end a crisis over growing numbers of migrants arriving by boat.

He also compared Meloni to the far-right French leader Marine Le Pen, a political foe of France’s centrist President Emmanuel Macron. “The extreme right has a vice. That of lying to the population,” Darmanin said.